NFL playoff picture 2012: 49ers gain from Giants loss

Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

We break down the NFL playoff picture and the 49ers standing following the conclusion of the important games from Week 9

One game remains to wrap up Week 9, but for the purposes of breaking down the playoff picture, Eagles-Saints is not really on our radar. The Eagles need a win to stick around the NFC East race, but otherwise neither team is doing a whole lot of much.

The 49ers enjoyed their bye week this past weekend, and will head back to work on Wednesday to get ready for the St. Louis Rams. Everything didn't quite go the 49ers way on Sunday, but they did benefit from a few good losses. The biggest was probably the Giants dropping a 24-20 decision to the Steelers. New York had their chances to put away the Steelers, but their offense struggled throughout the second half. The Giants hold the tiebreaker edge on San Francisco, so dropping a game back is a good thing.

Sunday saw the Arizona Cardinals lose and the Seattle Seahawks win, to drop and gain half a game, respectively, on the 49ers. There is still half a season of football to go, so scoreboard-watching only has so much value. Nonetheless, every NFC West loss helps the 49ers.

Here are your current playoff standings heading into Week 9 Monday Night Football:

1. Atlanta Falcons (8-0)
2. Chicago Bears (7-1)
3. San Francisco 49ers (6-2)
4. New York Giants (5-3)
5. Green Bay Packers (6-3)
6. Seattle Seahawks (5-4)

Bubble
Minnesota Vikings (5-4)
Detroit Lions (4-4)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-4)
Arizona Cardinals (4-5)

Heading into Week 10, we have a couple big matchups in the playoff race. The biggest will see the 7-1 Chicago Bears host the 7-1 Houston Texans. The 49ers get their chance at the Chicago Bears in Week 11, but I'd be down for seeing the Bears drop a game before then. The Vikings and Lions square off and the Falcons travel to the Superdome to face the Saints. I have to think the Falcons will be favored, but road games at New Orleans are no sure thing, even with the Saints current struggles.

In the NFC West, the Cardinals are on bye this week and the Seahawks host the New York Jets. As the Rams head to San Francisco, they do have a chance to tighten the division up. The odds are not in their favor, but the opportunity is there. Or the 49ers can just about stick a fork in the Rams chances fairly early on. I am probably rooting for the latter!

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